Have you ever wondered why it is easier to hold your baby on your left side? Or why your baby likes being on that side?
I recently discovered this is not by chance! I was in a conversation with my mother wondering why, while we are both right handed, it was so much easier to hold our children on our left arm. Our left arm seemed much stronger and kind of "build for the job". I proposed an easy solution: well, we are right handed so it's just easier to have that hand free to do other things while holding baby... she disagreed, she said she has noticed even primates hold their baby on their left side and that there must be a much stronger reason. Of course, I opened up my computer and started searching for published work in this matter (this is my small way of fulfilling the researcher I have inside).
It turns out most mammals prefer to keep their babies on their left side including about 80% of us human mommas, and there are proven scientific reasons for this:
The neurological reason: the right half of our brain, which better controls the functions of the left part of your body, is also responsible for social functions such as communication and bonding so it helps create and foster that close momma-child relationship.
"Emotional gestures and facial expressions are faster and more accurately recognized through the left visual field (right hemisphere), and the left side of the face has more emotional expressivity" say Sieratzki & Woll in their article published in The Lancet. So having baby on our left side helps us be more accurate and faster at recognizing baby's needs.
Natural instincts: Why kiddos prefer to be on tour left side? As my mother, the physician of the family explains, your heart is much easier to listen to from your left side than form your right side. Pay attention next time you go to the doctor! And kiddos not only react to the comfort of your heart beat but it also helps them regulate their own. Isn't nature amazing?
Are we born with this wisdom? Well about 50% of the population is: girls are, boys are not. What?! Observational studies have discovered that most girls start holding their dolls on their left side while boys don't really show a significant difference on a particular side until they become real dads! (but when would they learn to respect baby's schedule? (--am I the only one who struggles with this?)
Language development: While both sides of the brain interact in language development, the left part of the brain is in charge of the rules of the language such as grammar and spelling, and the right side takes care of interpreting intonation, intentions and, my favorite, melody and music. It is the very first way most mothers sooth their babies right after the trauma of birth. Even deaf mothers hum to their babies! But this is so cool it requires a different post, stay tuned for more!
But what if you hold your baby on your right side? Well that does not mean you are not in tune with your babie's needs or that your relationship is weaker or more distant. Not at all! There is beauty in variety and nature knows it, so you just happen to be in an exceptional group which is more common among the left handed population. But take a look at this: "Both men and women who cradled on their left side had stronger attachment to, and identification with, the parents of their own sex, and those who cradled on the right side, to the parent of the opposite sex." Sieratzki & Woll, Lancet 1996; 347: 1746-48
What are your thoughts? Are you more attached to one of your parents? Does your kid have a preference? Share your thoughts!